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Did you know a regular 600ml soft drink has 16 teaspoons of sugar ?  You would never eat that much sugar… so why drink it!  Choose water instead.

Cancer Council SA encourages South Australians to rethink their intake of sugary drinks—take action today to reduce consumption and drink water instead.


The health impact

The consumption of sugary drinks is associated with increased energy intake and long-term weight gain.

Carrying excess weight is a risk factor for up to 13 types of cancer—including cancer of the breast, bowel, kidney, endometrium, oesophagus, prostate, pancreas, thyroid, stomach, gall bladder, ovarian and stomach and multiple myeloma—as well as many other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

WHO recommendations

The World Health Organisation recommends limiting energy from ‘free sugars’ to less than 10 per cent of your daily energy intake (around 12 teaspoons for average adults).


Sugary drinks (or sugar sweetened beverages) are low in nutritional value, but high in kilojoules.  Australia’s Dietary Guidelines consider these ‘discretionary foods’— they are not needed in your diet, as they have little or no nutritional value and should be limited.

Sugary drinks refer to all non-alcoholic, water-based beverages with added sugar, including:

  • soft drinks (excluding diet or artificially sweetened varieties)
  • flavoured mineral water
  • sports drinks
  • energy drinks
  • sugar sweetened teas
  • fruit and vegetable drinks
  • cordial

The key difference between sugary drinks and fruit juice is that fruit juice can provide valuable nutrients, but most types naturally contain a similar amount of sugar and kilojoules to soft drinks.

A piece of fresh fruit is a better alternative to a glass of juice; it contains more fibre and fewer kilojoules.

If you do choose to drink fruit juice:

  • Choose 100 per cent fruit juice (avoid sweetened varieties).
  • Limit to 125 ml or half a glass per day.
  • Choose small serving sizes from juice bars.
  • Try diluting juice with water or ice.

Milk provides important nutrients like protein and calcium. Dairy foods are a core component of a healthy diet and the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended daily consumption of milk, particularly reduced-fat varieties for adults and children above the age of two.

Flavoured milks can contain a lot of added sugars and therefore kilojoules. Plain, reduced-fat varieties are the better choice. If you choose to drink flavoured milk, select the smaller sized drinks (375 ml or less) with no added sugar.

Water is the best drink for your body. It is free when accessed from the tap, contains no kilojoules, and is the best fluid for hydration.

To help you drink more water and add variety:

  • Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
  • Pop ice cubes made from fruit into your glass of water.
  • Keep a glass of water handy on your desk, or a bottle of water in your bag or backpack.

If you enjoy a little fizz in your drink, try:

  • Soda water or plain mineral water with fresh lemon or lime juice.
  • Soda water with cut up slices of fruit like oranges and strawberries; vegetables like cucumber and/or mint leaves.
  • All packaged drinks (except alcohol) have a nutrition information panel on the label stating the amounts of certain nutrients—eg carbohydrate, sugar, protein, fat—in that product per serve and per 100ml. For example, a 250 ml serve of Coca Cola contains 27 g sugar.
  • Some packaged drinks contain more than one serve, so you may need to multiply the ‘per serve’ amount by the number of serves in the packet.
  • The sugars listed include ‘added sugar’ (like that added to soft drinks) and ‘natural sugar’ (like the naturally occurring sugar lactose in milk). The main ingredient in sugary soft drinks is added sugar. For other products, such as milk or fruit-based drinks, the ingredients list helps you determine if sugar has been added to the product or is naturally occurring.

Tips and resources

Below are some handy suggestions to help you, your school, or workplace remove sugar or sweetened beverages from your daily diet.

Activity book

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Fact Sheet - Rethink sugary drinks at home

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Fact Sheet - Rethink sugary drinks at work

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Infographic - A3 Poster - Rethink sugary drinks

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Infographic - mp4 social - Rethink sugary drinks

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16tsp Rethink sugary drinks tile - social - jpeg

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Did you know Rethink sugary drinks tile - social - jpeg

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Newsletter template - Rethink sugary drinks - word

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Poster - Rethink Sugary Drinks - A3

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Poster - 100mL - Rethink Sugary Drinks - A4

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